Family, parties, gifts, holiday décor, travel arrangements – and all on top of your usual schedule. Ready or not, here come the holidays. We all know how busy, expensive, and time-consuming this season can be, but with a little preparation, you can make this holiday season less stressful and more enjoyable. To help you survive the holidays we’ve found 5 apps for your smartphone or tablet to give you a little bit of an edge by helping you save time and money.
Santa’s Bag. This app allows you to set budgets, create wish lists, sort shopping lists by the person who the gift is intended for, and track your shopping progress. The password-protected app allows you enter a picture of each person on your list and keep track of which gifts you have covered and which ones you still have to buy – all so your sweet, nosy child will be surprised on Christmas. While the app is free, it is worth noting that it is ad-supported, so if you can’t stand see the ads, you can upgrade for $3.00 to enjoy Dropbox backups and the ability to archive gifts from previous years. (Available for iPhone)
- Substitutions. How many times have you been in the middle of cooking and then realized you forgot a key ingredient? Are you dreading figuring out what to cook for the holidays with everyone’s dietary restrictions and food aversions? If you can relate to either of the previous questions, then Substitutions is an app you need. The $1.99 app includes a long list of ingredients with their possible substitutions, as well as ways to make a recipe suitable for those with dietary restrictions such as gluten free or low sodium. (Available for iPhone)
- Shop for Kids by TTPM. This free app from TimeToPlayMag.com lets you shop for infant products, toys, games, electronics, and even books. Shop for Kids TTPM provides you product reviews, real time online price comparison, price drop notifications and alerts for new products from the characters and brands your kids love. One of my favorite features is the Most Wanted Section, which helps you find this year’s hottest toys. (Available for iPhone and Android)
Raise. Now that you’ve found the “It” Toy of the year, at the best price using Shop for Kids by TTPM and downloaded a store coupon, you can manage to save a little bit more money by using the Raise app. While Raise.com has been around for over a year, the mobile app was just rolled out. Raise lets you save at local stores and restaurants by buying unused gift cards for less than their face value. It also allows you to sell a gift card that you don’t plan on using. In a matter of seconds, you can buy a gift card on your phone and then present the bar code while checking out in the store or on-line, knocking off 5% to 10% off your purchase. (Available for iPhone)
- Waze. Despite all the joy the can holidays bring, as we get closer to Christmas, the areas surrounding major retail centers will gradually become more congested with traffic frustrating shoppers and commuters. Waze, a real-time navigation app uses social data provided by its community of 50 million drivers to report traffic problems. Waze then proposes what it believes is the quickest, best route to your destination, helping keep road rage at bay. (Available on iPhone, Android, and Windows)
I know it’s easier said than done, but hopefully these apps will help you save time, energy, and money so that you can enjoy all that the holiday season has to offer